Defending Tashkent champion Gasparyan pushed to the limit

Margarita Gasparyan needed three sets to begin her Tashkent Open title defence with a victory over Stefanie Voegele.

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Stefanie Voegele proved no pushover for defending Tashkent Open champion Margarita Gasparyan in their first-round tie on Tuesday.

Gasparyan claimed her second WTA singles title when she won the tournament in 2018, beating Anastasia Potapova 6-2 6-1 in the final.

However, she was not given an easy ride on her return to the Uzbekistan hard court event, with world number 128 Voegele pushing the Russian to three sets.

After an even start to set one, Gasparyan broke at 3-3, serving out to lead by claiming her second set point.

Two concessions of serve cost Gasparyan dear in the second set but the world number 55 regained her composure in the decider, breaking Voegele twice and converting her second match point en route to a 6-4 4-6 6-4 win.

Second seed Gasparyan will face Danka Kovinic in round two, and she will be joined at that stage by fifth seed Kristyna Pliskova, who overcame Jasmine Paolini 6-4 6-4.

Pauline Parmentier cruised past Aleksandra Krunic, while Timea Babos also progressed with a straight sets win over Kirsten Flipkens.

Ysaline Bonaventure, Tatjana Maria and Monica Niculescu claimed wins in Tuesday’s other matches.

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